Chinatown is undoubtedly one of the greatest movies ever made. It takes the concept of Film Noir to an entirely new level, certainly bringing more depth and mystery to the genre than it ever had before. It takes films like The Maltese Falcon, Out of the Past and Double Indemnity and makes an even more impressive plot with better visuals and performances. Roman Polanski clearly has a love for the genre because no other director could be as precise about filming the way he is in this project.
The plot of Chinatown is by far one of the most complex films to ever be unleashed upon American audiences. I can understand people when they say “I don’t get it”, but it wasn’t designed to confuse. It really isn’t a confusing film, it just demands more of your time than others. It has all the perfect ingredients of the Noir genre; Femme Fatales, Detectives, Double Crossing, Scandals, Money, Politics and Henchmen. With that, it leaves out a lot of the unnecessary clichés as well, something that everyone should appreciate. That’s why Chinatown doesn’t feel stale at all, in fact it still has a very unique quality about it. No other film has been able to match it’s glorious style.
The performances also set it to the next bracket of prestige. Jack Nicholson gives one of his greatest performances as Jake, the ultimate apathetic cop. He outshines any other actor who’s ever daunted a Fedora and trench coat with a cigarette in hand. He plays the part as if it was himself, there aren’t any obnoxious monologues or corny movement to damper his beautiful character. Faye Dunway is also in many ways the ultimate Femme Fatale. She has an incredible screen presence, which has you glued to the screen. She is also a very vulnerable character that gives you a very untrusting experience.